Featured Article| Volume 221, ISSUE 2, P256-260, February 2021

How learning preferences and teaching styles influence effectiveness of surgical educators


      • Surgical educators most commonly have multimodal learning preferences.
      • Certain teaching styles are associated with effectiveness in surgical educators.
      • Surgical educators rate their teaching effectiveness lower than residents rate them.



      Effective surgical educators have specific attributes and learner-relationships. Our aim was to determine how intrinsic learning preferences and teaching styles affect surgical educator effectiveness.


      We determined i) learning preferences ii) teaching styles and iii) self-assessment of teaching skills for all general surgery attendings. All general surgical residents in our program completed teaching evaluations of attendings.


      Multimodal was the most common learning preference (20/28). Although the multimodal learning preference appears to be associated with more effective educators than kinesthetic learning preferences, the difference was not statistically significant (80.0% versus 66.7%, p = 0.43). Attendings with Teaching Style 5 were more likely to have a lower “professional attitude towards residents” score on SETQ assessment by residents (OR 0.33 (0.11, 0.96), p = 0.04). Attendings rated their own “communication of goals” (p < 0.001), “evaluation of residents” (p = 0.04) and “overall teaching performance” (p = 0.01) per STEQ domains as significantly lower than the resident’s assessment of these cofactors.


      Identification of factors intrinsic to surgical educators with high effectiveness is important for faculty development. Completion of a teaching style self-assessment by attendings could improve effectiveness.


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